Israel said the group is still quiet on its leadership and how deep its involvement with the Islamic State runs. Locals call the terrorists “al-Shabaab,” although the group has no known affiliation to the Somali-based terror group with the same name. But some of the insurgents received combat training with the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group active in DRC and Uganda, Israel added.
ASWJ has increasingly become more brazen in choosing targets, and its mission has become clearer. The group carried out more than 100 attacks between January and April, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).
On March 23, the terrorists tried for a second time to seize control of Mocímboa. They set up barricades on major roads in the town and erected their black-and-white flag over the police headquarters. They captured five army and police barracks before responding forces regained control one day later.
The group launched a similar attack days later on the district capital of Quissanga, where militants seized a police station and set up flags before security forces pushed them out. At least six security officials died in the unrest. During the raid, the insurgents released a video, where they called for the implementation of Shariah law and rejected “the wealth of this world.”
ASWJ has declared elements of the state as its main target, but civilians are also casualties in the violence.
In April, the group killed 52 people in the village of Xitaxi in Muidumbe district after none of the young men there agreed to join the group’s ranks. Pemba-based Catholic Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa told Aid to the Church in Need that the insurgents destroyed at least five local chapels and some mosques.
In May, Mozambique’s ministries of Defense and Interior confirmed a string of attacks across seven districts, where insurgents kidnapped at least 14 people and destroyed a new hospital and several telecommunication and electricity centers.
The insurgents occupied Macomia from May 28-30, when they killed at least 19 people and released inmates from a prison before withdrawing. On June 5, Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) withdrew from Macomia due to the attacks. The group pulled out of Mocímboa da Praia in March.
CABO DELGADO, the northernmost region bordering Tanzania, is one of Mozambique’s poorest provinces despite its political and economic significance. The nation’s 10-year struggle for independence that ended in 1974 began in the province’s Muidumbe district. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi comes from the province, and it is a stronghold for his ruling Frelimo party.